The Issue is Resolved … Unless It Isn’t

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The Issue is Resolved … Unless It Isn’t

man installing screen in house

man installing screen in house

by David Ham | October 17, 2017


Collecting customer feedback immediately after a contact center transaction can help ensure a great customer experience. But if not accompanied with thorough analysis, the feedback data can lead to erroneous conclusions about whether customer problems are really being solved.


A family member has been involved in an ongoing dispute with a window company. A few years after installation, it became clear that several of the window screens were not well manufactured as they began to sag and no longer fit properly.

The first response was to contact the window company and request replacements under their heavily-advertised lifetime warranty. Well, that warranty only applies to the windows themselves and not the screens, which come from a third-party vendor. (Yes, it’s there in the small print in the warranty but apparently not communicated effectively.) The window company suggested calling the screen manufacturer, who claimed that any problem was likely due to the window company not measuring accurately. And, of course, the customer is trapped in the middle.

After much back and forth communications, the window company offered to send a technician out – for a fee – to assess the situation. He grudgingly admitted that at least one of the screens was not measured correctly in the first place, so the window company agreed to replace it.

 

A low First Call Resolution rate for an agent may be an indicator of poor performance, but sometimes resolution is not a simple yes or no question, and requires careful analysis.

 

The replacement arrived and was the same size as the original, using the same incorrect measurements. After several more calls, they again agreed to replace it. Then, nothing. No communications – no response to voicemail messages, no response to emails, no response to publicly viewed comments on the company’s Facebook page. Nothing.

Finally, the customer contacted the Better Business Bureau (BBB). They offered their “Dispute Resolution” services and sent paperwork on how to proceed.

Soon after the customer received the documents and being preparing, another email came from the BBB indicating the case had been closed. The customer called to ask why, and was informed by the BBB rep that the business claimed to have resolved the issue directly with the customer. This came as quite a surprise to the customer, who has heard nothing from the company for several months, and who has lost the money for a service appointment that proved the original product was not correct in the first place. (It’s an interesting business model where a company charges its own customers to confirm that they failed to do the job properly in the first place. Let’s not call that a customer experience best practice.)

This story makes me think of the challenges many of my clients face in trying to resolve customer problems. First contact resolution (FCR) is critical to customer satisfaction and loyalty. In contact center environments, agents are often required to indicate whether a customer case has been resolved. This can create disincentives for providing honest information. A low FCR rate for an agent may be an indicator of poor performance, but sometimes resolution is not a simple yes or no question, and requires careful analysis. In the above example, the window manufacturer may have considered the problem to be resolved when the replacement screen was ordered (or received). But by repeating the same mistake made with the original order, the customer’s problem was not solved.

There can be other gray areas as well, such as a customer reaching out to check on a delayed order. From the agent’s standpoint, the issue might be resolved because information was provided. However, the customer might not be satisfied until the order is received.

I recently had a tech support experience that ended up with the agent sending an email with detailed instructions on how to solve the problem. The information proved accurate, but the fix took several hours. However, I was immediately hit with a survey invitation asking if my problem had been resolved, and whether the agent had given me everything I needed. If I had answered “yes,” that would have been disingenuous. If I had answered “no,” the agent would look bad. Instead, I passed on taking their seemingly short and simple survey.

I appreciate the desire for immediate feedback on a contact center transaction. Reactions while the experience is fresh in the customer’s mind may be more specific about the interaction with the agent, but might be misleading in terms of understanding whether customers’ problems are really being solved. Reputable managers do not want any of their customers to have an experience like the window example discussed here, but reliable data is critical to assure that your customers are not having experiences just like this one.


CFI Group offers expertise in designing contact center experience measurement solutions that provide action-oriented data reflecting the complete customer experience. This year’s Contact Center Satisfaction industry report also provides critical insights on customers’ evolving needs and expectations.


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